Maya Haptas was 39 years old the first time she stepped on a skateboard. Less than five years later, she’s the founder of Shred Your Fears, a Pittsburgh-based company that teaches skateboarding to girls, women, trans and non-binary thrill-seekers.

She recently received a Move Together grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation and clothing brand Athleta to support Skate+Together, a nonprofit program that by this fall will offer multigenerational free workshops to teach skateboarding to those who have historically been excluded from the sport. To be notified by email when the free program launches, sign up here.

Classes, which have yet to be scheduled, will be held at Switch & Signal Skatepark, a 12,000-square-foot indoor facility located at 7518 Dickson St. in Swissvale, where Haptas first got a taste of skate culture in May 2018.

When her son wanted to learn, Haptas took him to Switch & Signal for a lesson. She ended up falling in love with skateboarding herself and figured there were a lot of other women who would benefit from feeling the adrenaline rush in a safe space.

People learn how to skateboard during a workshop. Photo courtesy of Shred Your Fears.

Haptas took a group lesson with two friends that July and held her first Shred Your Fears workshop four months later.

As of March 2022, 354 participants ages 11 through 72 have learned to skateboard through Shred Your Fears. The company holds monthly workshops in Swissvale on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The next event is on April 24. Tickets can be purchased online.

“Many of those who have attended our workshops have gone on to teach their children to skate,” Haptas says. “This Move Together grant will allow us to work with Switch & Signal to teach multiple generations to skate together. Skateboarding is a fantastic way to build self-confidence and learn to face and overcome obstacles and we are so thankful to be able to provide this experience to more people with the support of the Move Together grant.”

January 2020 Shred Your Fears workshop attendees. Photo courtesy of Shred Your Fears.

Haptas, who works as a senior consultant with the firm Fourth Economy, is a trained skateboarding instructor. She’s written extensively about the mental health benefits of skateboarding for publications such as Bigfoot Skate Mag and is recognized as a national leader with Skate Like a Girl, a Seattle-based nonprofit that teaches and promotes skateboarding to people of all ages.

In August 2021, Shred Your Fears was accepted into the Skateboarding Inclusivity Cooperative, a mentorship program run by Skate Like a Girl.

Bloomfield Skate Fest

Here’s more news to get your wheels turning: Bloomfield Skate Fest will take place on April 23 from 1 to 9 p.m.

Sponsored by Trace Brewing, Wicked Skatewear and Radio Skateshop, the inaugural event will take place behind the brewery on Clement Way. The road will be closed to motor vehicle traffic to make room for roller skaters and skateboarders.

Show off your moves, watch a professional skate session, listen to live music, make a custom skateboard and enjoy beer, food trucks and ice cream throughout the day.